By Sally Raskoff
Have you heard people say that they know what causes something or they know why some thing happened? We all do this; it's one of the ways, we make sense of the world around us. We generalize about what we see, based on our experience and on previous knowledge that we remember.
Generalizing is how we understand what we encounter. When we see something new, we evaluate what it might be based on how it looks and how people might be using it.
My favorite example of this is a podium or lectern. When you first saw one, did you know what it was? Did you know how it was used? If it was in an empty room, perhaps not, although you might notice the angled top, how it was placed in the room relative to other things like chairs or desks. If someone uses it, then you have more information to figure that out.
We generalize about people when we encounter them; we often make many assumptions about them, based on their appearance that may or may not convey in accurate information about them. We also do this when encountering new situations.